Gainesville Native Katelyn Crofts Leaves Dominant Legacy at Santa Fe

The Santa Fe Saints volleyball season has officially come to a close. When reflecting on this past 2022 season for the Saints, coaches and members within the team have expressed one player who stood out. An athlete who grew as a person, player and leader. Someone who consistently showed up for her team and made a difference on and off the court. After three seasons with the Saints, third-year middle blocker Katelyn Crofts leaves behind a dominant legacy which culminated with a selection to the All-Suncoast Conference Second Team and a lasting impact on the program.

Her Journey to Santa Fe

The 20-year-old Gainesville native played volleyball for the Rock, a local high school just 10 minutes down the road from Santa Fe College. She began playing volleyball when she was 12, and she said she used the sport to express herself. She explained how she really began to develop a love for the sport as she grew to understand it better and obtained a higher IQ for the game. 

When asked about what it was like to play for a college so close to home, Katelyn expressed,

“Usually when you go to college you leave home, but for me, all my family, my friends are here close to support me… When I want to go home it’s not like a 3 to 4 hour drive which is really nice.”

It was clear the support she received from friends and family was incredibly important to her. However, playing close to home was not the biggest factor in her choice to attend Santa Fe. 

Crofts played club volleyball when she was younger and she said her coach, Nick Cheronis, the former Santa Fe volleyball head coach, was her biggest influence to play for the Saints. Cheronis insisted she consider playing for Santa Fe, and ultimately played a big role in convincing Crofts to make her decision to join the program. 

Contribution and Growth

Crofts made an immediate impact when she joined Santa Fe. She earned a spot on the All-Mid Florida Conference First Team her first season. She played in every match and ranked No. 15 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I in solo blocks. Her contributions to the team helped win her team a Mid-Florida Conference title in the 2020-21 season.

Croft’s dominance continued in her second season when she led the team in total blocks as she tallied 58. In her final season, she once again played in every match and led the team in blocks with 67. After three impressive seasons, Crofts holds the program record for career blocks with 210 total.

“It was an honor to hold the record”, she said. She was thankful for everything her coaches had taught her to improve at blocking. She felt she had put in the work to understand how to effectively make blocks over her time at Santa Fe, Crofts said. When asked how it was to be in a more leadership type role this season, Crofts responded,

“It’s definitely a lot of pressure… I feel like I’ve always kind of been a leader, but this year the team really counted on me, but I like pressure, so it wasn’t a problem.”

Croft’s confidence is a big reason for her success throughout her Santa Fe career and is sure to translate to the next level. She contributes much of this confidence and maturity to her experiences playing volleyball at the college level.

“I think playing volleyball, or any sport really, helps you define who you are and find out more about yourself,” she said. “I would say I’m more mature outside of sports as well as on the court.”

What’s Next?

Crofts’ time at Santa Fe may be coming to an end, but she said she will have plenty of memories and experiences to look back on as she transitions to the next chapter of her life. She spoke about a few of her favorite memories during the interview, which included beating Polk State College, which hadn’t been done by Santa Fe since 2014 up to that point, and her time at practice preparing for games.

More than anything, however, she emphasized her time spent with her teammates as her favorite part of being a Santa Fe Saint. She said, “Practice throughout the year was really fun. I love my team.”

Crofts said she wants to continue her volleyball career at either a Division I or Division II school. She did not reveal her next potential team, but said there were some schools on her radar. No matter what her future holds, Crofts made it clear she was very excited and ready for the challenge of potentially playing at the next level.

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